Archive for June, 2007

Loud Bikes Targeted By Denver City Council

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Noisy motorcycles have drawn the ire of the Denver City Council and the Council has now passed an ordinance singling them out. This is good and bad.

The good is that the Council is trying to address the legitimate concerns of the populace. Let me give an example. The issue is about noisy bikes downtown when the bars close. Closing time is 2 a.m., so a lot of people who live downtown are asleep . . . until the biker boys rev their engines. My dentist lives downtown and periodically I’ll mention one of my bikes or one of our trips. Then he’ll go into his usual rant about the racket the bikes make late at night. He has every right to be unhappy and I’m sure he welcomes this new ordinance. I’m happy for him.

The bad is that the ordinance wasn’t necessary, and in singling out motorcycles it does nothing about noisy cars or noisy trucks. The city already has a noise ordinance and what the police need to do is enforce it, regardless of vehicle type. The way this ordinance works, your bike has to have a muffler with a particular stamp on it, and if you don’t have the stamp you get a ticket. So what if you don’t have the stamp but your noise is within legal limits? Too bad. American jurisprudence is now turned on its ear and you are guilty until proven innocent. In the meantime, while the cop is writing you a ticket, an illegally loud truck drives by unmolested because the cop does not have a decibelmeter to prove that he is in violation. Or to prove that you are not.

The police say they can’t afford to issue decibelmeters to all cops so this discrimination against motorcyclists is warranted. Well, downtown is a very finite space and Lodo, where most of the action is on a Saturday night, is even more so. How about giving those cops decibelmeters, or at least a few of them, and have the ones with the meters come to the assistance of the ones without when needed? No, that would make too much sense.

Fortunately the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) got wind of this and is getting involved. With any luck, their experienced team will lead the Council to an acceptable alternative. But if you ride an obnoxiously loud bike, don’t think the AMA is going to save your butt. They’ve made it clear that they have no love for overly loud bikes making people hate bikes and bikers. If you’re over the noise limit it won’t bother them one bit to see you get a ticket. As long as it’s legitimate and not carried out in a way that illegitimately targets bikers and excludes other actual violators.